Without a doubt one of the most frequent questions we get from people who are thinking of visiting is "what about eating out?" Well.... what about that? Oh sure, island living is an adjustment for those of us who weren't born all islandy, but once you become part of the flow, instead of resisting the flow, it all falls into place.
Our beautiful Florida Keys are chock full of small "mom & pop" type places (some without the mom, some without the pop, some maybe run by dogs, who knows....) which are absolutely the backbone of this community. For many people, there is a lot of misinterpreted information about what it's like to be a small business owner. We dream about, and talk about all the time we're going to have off because "it's our business" but the fact of the matter is in small business, generally you work harder than you ever planned to, and see far less of that illusive time off dreamt of and spoken of. Despite this, we soldier on and most of us do have satisfaction and pride in how we run our small businesses in spite of the huge sacrifices it often requires.
The natural food stores in the Keys are among my favorite places down here. In Marathon, there is Food for Thought, in Big Pine there is Good Food Conspiracy, in Key West there is Date & Thyme, and the Sugar Apple. I've written about all these places through the years, done videos, taken pictures, and urged you all to patronize these places while visiting Paradise. Eating out in the Keys is really not difficult as vegans; not to mention The Cafe, on Southard Street in Key West which is a funky sit down restaurant open all day with tons of vegan options, including vegan desserts. There's plenty of places in the Upper Keys too, although we don't venture that far too often. Most any place will provide a vegan meal upon request, although some places are better at it than others. Also, we caution everyone to stay far away from fish houses down here as they really don't care about vegans and will not make any effort at all (sure, there are exceptions, but be prepared as well to sit among the fish heads, ok?) When we combine our love of supporting small business owners, as well as those in the natural food industry, it's a given that one of our most favorite places to eat out is Food for Thought in Marathon. If I could bring you "smell-o-vision" on this blog and on my videos this is the place you'd need to be. Often times the faint smells waft outside, and I'm treated before I even walk in. The place is sparkling clean, modern, perfectly organized, has wonderful people working there, and the cafe.... OMG the cafe.... Christina makes magic in the kitchen, it is restaurant quality food every time we go in.
Today is Friday, which at Food For Thought is "Living Food Friday" on the specials board. Come watch my little video as we have lunch at Food for Thought in our beautiful Florida Keys. We may not have all the fancy places that big cities have, but we want for nothing down here, trust me.
I'm not sure if they're doing it again this year, but in years past, they even run a ThanksLiving special in the cafe for vegans. You place your order ahead of time, they cook and pack a vegan ThanksLiving meal for you at a set price that you pick up the day before. We've ordered our ThanksLiving meals from them on more than 1 occasion in the past. For us, that holiday is just another work day, so it's super-duper that they've done this, not to mention that finding vegan food in the Keys on holidays can be more difficult than a regular day. This is because most restaurants are either closed, or do a "special menu" on holidays, ditching their regular menus, thus becoming much more reluctant to go off menu for vegans or any other needs. The magnitude of the amount of death that ramps up during holiday season is really difficult for me (and so many others) to cope with. Although Food For Thought is not a dedicated vegan grocer, it's important to note that there is a lot of thought and effort that goes into the selection of items there, as well as the offerings in the cafe. The fact that they regularly "tip their hat" to the vegan lifestyle through books, prepared food, groceries, the newest vegan products as they become available to our island chain (aka Mars) and other means of community outreach speaks volumes to the fact that this IS a very important lifestyle (although I will take the argument that compassion is always the BEST way of life).
See you next time!